BTT: Jaz tell us a little bit about what you are up to these days?
JHS: Well, I’m a wife, a mum of 2 beautiful boys and I work full time for Tennis Australia in New South Wales. I have just been appointed the National Squad Coach for NSW.
BTT: Was coaching something you always wanted to do?
JHS: I never planned to be a coach. After I retired I didn’t pick up a racket for 12 months. I studied personal training and remedial massage and began my own business. One day I walked into Tennis SA to offer to hit with the next generation of players. Next thing I know, I’m the Strength and Conditioning Coach and tennis coach at the National High Performance Academy.
BTT: What was retirement like for you, was it sudden or something you had been planning for?
JHS: Retirement for me was pretty sudden. I broke my hand on the middle Sunday at the Australian Open after competing in the mixed doubles event there with Peter Luczak. I had surgery that week to fix the break and then another surgery around 6 months later however my hand was never the same.
BTT: What kind of support do you think players need during that transition time between retiring as a professional tennis player to their next career?
JHS: Depending on the age of the player retiring, I’ve found their needs are different. Some need guidance with study and which courses to do. While others may need assistance with connections and developing a base back in their home state after travelling for so many years. That’s where I think the IC can be most beneficial is the alumni of former players that can assist with the transition out of the sport and into the real world.
BTT: What sorts of things set you up for success in coaching?
JHS: I believe the success I have had as a coach has come from my playing journey and the coaches who impacted my career both positively and negatively. The key I find coaching now is building relationships with the player and parent. A favourite quote I like is from Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
BTT: Let’s talk about your playing career, if you had to name your single favorite memory from a professional match which one would that be?
JHS: Probably my most memorable match was the final of the Bendigo in 2000. It was after the Australian Open and I was playing against Rachel McQuillan in my first final of a $25,000. I was in awe playing Rachel as I use to watch her at the Australian Open. I lost the first set 5-7 and somehow managed to win the second set 6-4. Unfortunately I went down 5-7 in the thirst set, but it was that match and week that gave me the confidence to pursue my career of being a tennis player.
BTT: What was tour life like for you and how did it differ to your current position?
JHS: I loved life on the tour. Travelling with mates from around the world hitting a yellow tennis ball around life doesn’t get too much better. The lonely times were when you are at tournaments when you were by yourself. I always travelled with books to keep me pre-occupied during dinners in hotel lobbies. It wasn’t like we could take an iPhone to dinner and jump on the wifi to watch the next episode of our favourite series on Netflix. I still get those flashbacks as a coach when I’m on the road eating dinner alone and think about the many nights eating alone with my books. I’ve extremely grateful for Netflix and AirPods now. 🤣
BTT: When we were juniors we all used to write hand written letters to each other. Was this how you kept in touch with your playing mates and is that something you value?
JHS: 🤣 Good old pen pals. That was the only way we could keep in touch before the capped interstate call after 7pm came into effect. Nowadays it’s so easy and it’s been great to reconnect with so many old faces during Covid-19 while we have been in isolation. Just last year when I took a tour to the Canadian Juniors, I was able to catch up with Canadian player Marie-Eve Pelletier after not seeing each other for almost 15 years. I think tennis friends are like no other, as competitive as you are against each other once you stop playing you really appreciate the good times and struggles everyone went through.
BTT: So you think at some point we might see you playing on the seniors tour or at some of the IC international events?
JHS: I have contemplated playing some seniors matches if my knees will hold out for me. After having ACL surgery and sub-luxing kneecaps my knees don’t appreciate too much change of directions. However, if the right opportunity presents itself with some great mates you never know…
BTT: People are really enjoying these baseline blogs, we want you to nominate who we should interview next and why!!
JHS: I would love to nominate Sandon Stolle to be interviewed next. Having grown up with the Australian Davis Cup team with Sandon part of it he has always been a great mate and mentor.